Glynnis Mayes - a tribute

GlynnisMayesGlynnis was born at her grandparents home in Wolverhampton; she is the eldest of Bill & Mabel’s four children, followed by Robert, Bridget and finally Jeremy. Her father was in the RAF and as a result, Glynnis spent her early years living in a tent in a field and then a caravan at Witcombe and finally the family home in Bentham at the bottom of Crickley Hill. As siblings, they all got on really well and had a great childhood playing together in the garden at Bentham and taking long walks up Birdlip Hill.

They all had their own patch of the garden to develop as they wished and this is where her love of gardening developed. Glynnis attended Witcombe Village School and was the first girl to pass the 11+ and from there she attended Pates all girls school in Cheltenham.

Glynnis did well in school and left home when she was 18 to travel to London to undertake training to be a nurse at Hammersmith hospital, she did a four year course qualifying as a Registered Nurse and Health Visitor. She then went on to do midwifery training at Birmingham maternity hospital and after qualifying she took up a post in Worcester and worked as a health visitor for time. She went to Cornwall to Treliske hospital as a midwife and there met a lifelong friend Ann Skipworth, or Skip to everyone. Glynnis returned to London, applying to LSE to undertake a degree in Economics and Sociology; she obtained a 2.1 and whilst studying, the need for money brought her to do night duty at Whipps Cross Maternity Hospital.

When finishing her degree she obtained a permanent job at Whipps Cross. It was here she met another life long friend Anne Rider. Anne at that time was the Divisional Midwifery Officer and saw the potential in Glynnis and appointed her as her Senior Midwifery Officer. When Anne left to become Head of Midwifery at UCLH Glynnis became the Divisional Midwifery Officer succeeding Anne.

When Glynnis left Whipps Cross she went to Rush Green as the Head of Maternity Services but after a few years was enticed back to Whipps Cross in 1984 to take up the post as the Head of Midwifery, Woman’s and Paediatric Services - a huge role, responsible for over 200 staff and a budget of several million. It was here I met Glynnis, which I must admit was not the best of meetings since we were on opposite sides of the table her being Head of Midwifery and me being a Senior Midwifery Teacher.

It was in 1988 that Glynnis was first diagnosed with breast cancer and she had a lumpectomy and radiotherapy at the time. Again it was her strong faith which saw her through the time as well as the support that she received from St Mary’s South Woodford where she was a member of the congregation, and then churchwarden with me being the Sacristan. At this time we met the Revd Bob Birchnall, Rector, who had such an impact on our lives and our strong sense of faith and commitment. He was truly the most dedicated priest we had ever known with immense love for everyone; we were living in Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire, travelling up and down the M11 into London to work each day.

In Bishop’s Stortford Glynnis had a really interesting experience when she signed on with the GP, and the nurse taking her history said to her, are you The Miss Glynnis Mayes, the one who has written on Midwifery supervision. The nurse appeared to be in awe of Glynnis and she found this amusing. We did have a good chuckle about it afterwards being ‘The’ Miss Glynnis Mayes!

Glynnis was an expert in midwifery supervision and practice and she left Whipps Cross in 1993 to work at the statutory body for Nursing, Midwifery & Health Visiting. She had a good mind and also a very good way of expressing herself on paper, so wrote a great deal about midwifery supervision and practice. She decided to undertake an MSc in midwifery and health studies at Manchester University and I had the pleasure of typing up her dissertation! She waited until the very last minute to complete this and we stayed up two nights solid with no sleep only eating biscuits to finish her dissertation in time to go to the printers.

I must admit in those days life was very work orientated with her at the ENB and me at the University we didn’t have much spare. But we both shared a love for animals, her for cats and me for dogs. In 1996 we decided that it would be nice to buy a cottage in the Cotswolds as Glynnis always planned to retire returning to Gloucestershire. She always wanted to live in Painswick, so we bought a cottage there next door to the Falcon Inn called Stonechat Cottage. We spent every weekend and all our holidays there and on a Friday night we would pack up all 7 cats and the dogs and head for Gloucestershire. If it was a longer holiday we would also bring the tortoises. It was like a menagerie in the back of our Discovery!

We became regular members at Painswick church and when we happened to mention that we had been sacristans the next thing we knew we ended up being Sacristans there and we enjoyed our church life at Painswick and have many happy memories. Those were really good days that we spent in our Cottage especially with Glynnis’ sister Bridget who would often go to the cottage and put flowers in for us arriving. We had some lovely times and Bridget would come every weekend and we would eat together. Sadly, Bridget died of cancer in 2001.

In 2002 the government decided to rationalise the statutory bodies for Nursing and Midwifery and the ENB was disbanded which meant that Glynnis could enjoy early retirement. She had only been retired one month when her cancer returned and she had a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy - all of this taking place when we were selling our house and buying the house in Edge. Our move was delayed by a month while Glynnis recovered. I was still working at the time and said that I would commute each day into London from Stroud by train.

To Glynnis retirement was her time to indulge in all she loved, especially gardening. She walked around our garden every day to look at everything that had changed and what was coming up and what was flowering. It was here she truly relaxed and we both shared an interest in gardening. Her other love in retirement was painting and many of you know Glynnis was an extremely good artist especially her watercolours, and she belonged to several art groups: The Gloucester Society of Artists, Lansdowne Art Group, The Country Studio and Pitchcombe Art Group. She spent 2 mornings a week painting and loved it. She was also an accomplished pianist and liked to play Chopin nocturnes and of course, her favourite composer, Gabriel Fauré. Those that know Glynnis well have heard her play the Dolly Suite, her signature piece. I retired in 2006 and started to train for ordination. In 2010 I was ordained and we both came to Minchinhampton, I the new curate supported by Glynnis.

Glynnis entered into the life of this church fully becoming Sacristan, a server, the cook for Messy Church and a member of the Hospitality Committee (where her cooking skills really did come into their own, making cakes for special occasions with artistic flair) and really enjoyed it. She took part in the Experiences when we had all the children in from the school. She loved the young children. By now the church soon realised they gained not only a new curate but an extremely committed member of the congregation who lived her faith to the full and truly demonstrated the hospitality of God’s love to all.

In the last few months of Glynnis‘s life I would like to thank Mineral Healthcare Team for providing such wonderful carers who came in three times a day. They were always cheerful and did whatever Glynnis requested even to the point when she want it to be just left alone. They also were good at looking after me as well and making a fuss of Poppy. I also like to thank Anne Rider who came and cared for Glynnis on a few occasions staying the week and cooking for us and helping Glynnis to partake of her favourite tipple - champagne. I’d like to thank Larraine who has been our personal carer for the last 13 years and has been an absolute brick. She not only cared for Glynnis and myself but she cared for Glynnis‘ mother and my mother over the years and towards the end of their lives and she poured all her love and caring out for Glynnis. Glynnis deemed her as the best carer of all.

I need to thank our friend Andy who has been there over the years and helped in the garden and also anything else I asked him to add to his job description even to the point of being carer, which did make Glynnis laugh when I told her what happened and all he had to put up with! He telephoned us morning and evening to make sure that we were alright and today he even collected all the sandwiches and food to bring to the church. He really is a good friend.

I can’t begin to thank everyone individually for all they have done because there have been so many of you who have made meals and given Glynnis lifts when needed. The last people I would like to thank are Glynnis’ brother Jeremy and his wife Vicky who gave up their holiday to come and stay with and nurse Glynnis. Jeremy came every one of his days off and at weekends, driving down from Newcastle to look after his sister and support me even though Glynnis wasn’t sure which one of us was leading the other astray as our diet consisted of ale and curries, which made her laugh. He was there the day when she died and she was very aware the two of us being with her and she felt at peace.

Glynnis was extremely supportive of everything I have ever done; she was not only my partner but my friend and latterly my carer. These last few months, I returned the caring as best I could by allowing Glynnis to fulfil her wish that she would die at home with dignity. This she did.

Three years ago we had a civil partnership when Glynnis was able to commit herself fully in front of family and friends to the love we shared. I feel that it was a great privilege and honour to have Glynnis as my lifelong partner. There is such an enormous gap in my life now that is hard to express how I feel other than I have lost the best person I have ever known and I am so pleased that I have wonderful memories that will sustain me until I join her and Christ when the time comes.

Sandy